Vank Cathedral Isfahan | Sistine Chapel of Iran
Vank Cathedral, also known as Church of Saintly Sisters and The Holy Savior Cathedral is located in the Armenian neighbourhood “New Jolfa” in Isfahan city. The Vank counts as one of the top Isfahan attractions. The construction of the Cathedral is believed to have begun in 1606, by the Armenian community, who were resettled in Isfahan by the Safavid King, Shah Abbas I. “Vank” is the Armenian word for convent.
On his way to Iran, Shah Abbas I brought Armenians with him to Isfahan to protect “them from the war with Ottomans and he had their every lands and buildings on the fire in order to reduce the ottomans’ speed to achieve.
Vank Cathedral address and opening hours are included in the end.
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#1 Story behind the name
Finally the Armenians has been resided in New Jolfa in Isfahan. Armenian Vank built by these people for both Orthodox and Protestant Christians and is considered as the first religious building of that time.
Vank cathedral (Kelisa-ye Vank) is the common name given to the “Holy Savior Cathedral” or “Church of the Saintly Sisters”, retrieved from the Armenian world “Vank” which literally means monastery or convent.
#2 Vank Church History
Vank church established in 1606 is one of the most famous cathedrals of Iran and is the biggest one in Isfahan. The monument measures 4000 square meters and close to 9000 square meters along with its garden in area. The cathedral is well known for its religious tourism application.
#3 Vank Cathedral Architecture
Vank church architecture itself, along with its decorations has made the cathedral famous and different from the other Armenian cathedrals. The interior and exterior architecture of the buildings shows a mixture of the European missionaries, mercenaries and travelers’ styles.
The difference between this cathedral and the others of Armenian’s, is in the shape of their dome which is usually built in conical shapes but the semilunar shape of Vank cathedral’s domes are similar to the dome of mosques. The two domes of Vank church, one large and the other a small one, are plain on the outer side and designed on the interior part which belong to Safavid Dynasty.
On top of the entrance gate of the cathedral, exists a bell tower in 3 floors of which the second floor has a large clock with faces in four directions showing the hours of the day.
Decorations of various parts of the church includes gilded carving frescos, paintings, carved stones, and inscriptions with lazuli tiles along with golden carvings on the western gate of Vank cathedral.
The decorative treatment of Vank Church affected on the architecture of subsequent orthodox churches.
#4 Vank Cathedral Paintings
Vank church paintings are retrieved from the events mentioned in Bible. The paintings of Italian and European styles depicting the birth of Christ, resurrection and heaven to hell, cover all over the dome, all sides of the cathedral and its walls and arcades.
#5 Standing Parts of Vank Church Isfahan Iran
Today, different standing parts of the cathedral are in use such as Vank church museum, Vank church library, Vank cathedral printing house, Vank cathedral administrative building.
Vank Cathedral Museum
The museum is included in the ticket price and worth visiting for it is the great taste of ancient not only for Christians, but all can see the unknown history of Persia.
Over a hundred years, the Vank church museum unveils manuscript books, Armenian and European artist’s paintings, stucco panels of Safavid palaces, metal works and handicrafts.
Sacramental artifacts, the first ever printed book in Iran, and the exceptional smallest prayer book known in the history as a hair on which lines are written in Armenian language from Torah by a diamond pen, are also found in Vank cathedral museum.
Vank Cathedral Opening Hours
8:30 AM – 18:30 PM